"Digital Photography Hacks" by Derrick Story
Review Date: 6th August 2004
"Digital Photography Hacks" by Derrick Story is an up-to-date collection of 100 tips and ideas that will really help the digital photographer to improve their technique. Each of the 100 "hacks" has been contributed by real-world photographers who use them in their day-to-day jobs; Mike Pasini from the website Imaging Resource is one of the more recognisable names. The book is aimed at the photographer who is looking to move beyond the basics and contains sections on daytime and night-time photo secrets, using flash, photo projects, digital camera attachments, Photoshop and more. As the book was first published in May 2004, it even contains a section on getting the most out of your cameraphone! So is "Digital Photography Hacks" worth adding to your library of photography books? Read my short review to find out.
"Digital Photography Hacks" contains 100 tips, referred to as "hacks", which are then divided into 8 different chapters. They are:
- Digital Camera Attachments
- Daytime Photo Secrets
- Nighttime Photo Hacks
- Magic with Flash
- The Computer Connection
- Photoshop Magic
- Camera-Phone Tricks
- Weekend Photo Projects
There are 309 pages in total with high-quality colour photos used throughout.
A quick glance through the list above clearly shows that there are a wide range of different topics covered, from getting out there and taking photographs through to editing the images on your computer. This is part of the appeal of "Digital Photography Hacks"; unlike most books, which tend to specialise in a particular subject, this one includes tips and ideas about a number of different areas of photography. And its 309 pages ensures that each section feels well-rounded and not at all shallow, so the appeal of the book is a broad one without compromising on the depth of the content.
"Digital Photography Hacks" is very much a book that you will dip into, rather than reading it from front to back. Its division into 100 hacks means that you can read a few when the mood takes you, then return to the book later and read a few more. Each hack is usually at least 1 page long, going up to several pages for some of the more advanced ones. It's the perfect book for taking on your daily commute to work if you go by train or metro/tube.
"Digital Photography Hacks" is not aimed at the absolute beginner or the advanced photographer, but rather the amateur photographer who already knows the basics of digital photography. It won't teach you about the theory of apertures or shutter speeds, but it will teach you how to capture traffic trails in night shots, for example, or how to obtain pro-quality prints. On a scale of Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced, I would say that this book would be most suitable for the Intermediate category, although it is true to say that Beginner's and Advanced's will also find something of interest.
On the whole "Digital Photography Hacks" is well-written, informative and easy to follow, despite the fact that 8 different people have contributed their ideas. O'Reilly's editorial team have done a great job to bring all those ideas together into a cohesive whole. Derrick Story is credited as the author and it his voice that is talking to us throughout the 100 different hacks. As Derrick Story and O'Reilly are both from the USA, "Digital Photography Hacks" does have a distinctly American feel to it, mostly because there are a lot of references to US-based companies. In the first chapter, Digital Camera Attachments, there are references to companies who supply suitable equipment, such as Bogen, Cullman and Pedco. This is both a strength and weakness of "Digital Photography Hacks"; a strength in that it is very rare to find such explicit references to specific equipment (even the model-number and price is given!), but also a weakness as the majority of references are to US companies. Having said that, I would rather have the book contain these references than have none at all, especially as most items could probably be ordered via the internet.
(out of 5 stars)
"Digital Photography Hacks" is a very up-to-date, wide-ranging and ultimately practical book about the entire digital photography process; it's these key qualities that set it apart from other photography titles. For once Photoshop isn't the main topic (there are 13 hacks on Photoshop). Instead Story and the team of contributors concentrate on all the other equally important aspects, providing sound practical advice that you will want to go out and try with your own digital camera. Not everyone will read all 100 hacks, and not everyone will read the same hacks. You won't find every single tip useful, but on the other hand you will be interested in the majority of the hacks. "Digital Photography Hacks" is a great idea that has been very well realised - it's clearly and enthusiastically written and contains a wide range of ideas that you really will want to try for yourself. A must for every aspiring digital photographer.